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Eating Tea: How to Make Matcha

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Eat tea. Yes, that’s right. We love eating tea, when it comes to matcha that is. Matcha is the only tea we actually eat.

The finely milled powder from shade grown organic Japanese green tea whips up into a creamy delicious froth. And the effect? We describe it as somewhere between wheatgrass and and espresso. Caffeinated and robust, yet fresh and vegetal. Perfect for sleepy mornings or whenever you could use a boost of inspiration.

Continue reading Eating Tea: How to Make Matcha

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Private Dining Events at Samovar Tea Lounge

Creating Something Special

Customers thank us every day for the peace that Samovar Tea Lounge brings them. We are so grateful to be doing what we do.

But when I step back to survey the magic that happens at Samovar, I realize the real superhero is you.

You are the one who took time to meet with an old friend. You are the one set aside work to savor a dish of smoked duck and poached eggs. You are the one who chose to reach out to an estranged family member and reconnect over a pot of tea.

All we do is offer a space for the alchemy to take place.

Check out our new video showing how we can help you create a magical moment for your next celebration:

Learn More and Book a Private Event at Samovar Tea Lounge

 

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Cold-Brewing Pineapple Coconut Oolong


When the weather warms up, it’s a great time to chill your teas down. Did you know there’s more than one way to make chilled tea? The most common technique is to brew tea with hot water, then pour it over ice or refrigerate it. But you can also brew tea with cold water, which extracts more sweetness and yields a smoother body.

Cold-brewed Pineapple Coconut Oolong is our favorite warm weather refreshment. With a creamy flavor, heady tropical aroma, and natural sweetness, it goes down easy on those scorcher days.

Here’s how to cold-brew tea:

  • Put about 2-6 teaspoons of tea in a glass jar or cup (fewer teaspoons for dense teas, more for fluffy teas like Pineapple Coconut)
  • Add 8 ounces of water and refrigerate overnight, or for a minimum of four hours.
  • Strain, and enjoy!

 

Buy Pineapple Coconut Oolong

Learn More About Cold-Brewing Tea

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Hugging a Lion: How to Embrace Technology Without Getting Eaten Alive

Sometimes when I’m at the Tea Lounges and have a moment to myself, I like to sit at a remote corner table and pretend to be a customer. Then I just observe. I never tire of watching haggard, stressed out people plop themselves down, then slowly transform as they experience our warming teas and nourishing food. Watching their eyes get clearer and suddenly seeing – actually seeing – the person sitting across the table from them, and connecting with them for one quiet moment.

I also count how many people are twiddling away on their phones while eating, barely tasting their food or talking to their companions. I’m not against technology at all—I have as much tech as the next guy in San Francisco. The tools of today allow us this unprecedented ability to create movements and organizations and companies, and art. Continue reading Hugging a Lion: How to Embrace Technology Without Getting Eaten Alive

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How To Brew Gyokuro, An Expensive Green Tea That Is Worth Every Penny

As you explore the world of tea, you’ll come to a point where you want something more. Something more exotic. Something that surprises. Something so delicious that your worries melt away leaving you squarely in the present moment, a cup in your hand and a smile playing on your lips.

That’s when it’s time to brew some Samovar Gyokuro—the fine wine of Japanese green tea.

Unlike most teas, Gyokuro is grown in the shade under straw mats for about 20 days prior to harvest. This stresses the plant and as it struggles to draw energy from the sun the chemistry of the leaves change. The result is higher levels of L-Theanine, responsible for increased mental clarity and focus, and a clear resonating note of the most unique of all flavors: umami.

If you are familiar with our standard brewing instructions (steeping one to two tbs. of tea in boiling water for 15-60 seconds) you’ll have to set them aside. They won’t help you here. Gyokuro has special leaves that you need to treat with extra gentle, loving care.

Watch Episode 9 from The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea, where Leo and I share a Gyokuro brewing and tasting session:

Continue reading How To Brew Gyokuro, An Expensive Green Tea That Is Worth Every Penny

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How To Brew & Taste Tea The Samovar Way

Two of the most common questions we hear are “What is the best way to brew my tea?” and “How should I taste tea to get the most out of  it?” The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea video series covers these and a number of other topics: how to judge tea quality, what tea is, information on all tea varieties, and more.

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How To Taste Tea The Samovar Way

Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea. Enter your email and we’ll send you details to unlock this episode, for FREE.

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Learn more about the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea ?

 

 

Know someone who might enjoy this?

1. Consider sending a link to this page: http://samovarlife.com/how-to-brew-and-taste-tea .

2. Tweet it!

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4 Best Practices For The Post-Information Age

Agrarian society fed the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution created the tools and workforce for the Information Age. But what comes next? The pattern of change in human development is as predictable as it is disruptive. The one constant in this world is that nothing lasts forever.

So where are we headed now?

Joshua Jacobs, who works on Special Ops for us at Samovar Tea Lounge, has been a key collaborator for the last 12 months, and he has some interesting ideas on this subject. Rather than speak for him, I invited him to write a guest post here and share his perspective.

Recognize the last name? Yup, he’s my brother. But don’t think that means I’ve been easy on him—I’ve already fired him three times…

Best Practice #1: Never Trust A Best Practice

Best practices only make sense within a particular context. Applied in the wrong context, they’ll produce horrid results. The best practices at Google bear almost no resemblance to the best practices at a 3-person app development shop. Change the context and the governing rules also change, making all “best practices” worthless unless they are tailored to the situation.

And the consequences are huge. It’s why the Luddites could not stop the industrialization of their craft. It’s why telephone operators were replaced by Cisco routers. It’s why Borders and Blockbuster went bankrupt.

The Ages of our civilization don’t end; they evolve. First slowly and with incredible resistance, and then faster and faster until the cycle is complete.

The fact is, the Information Age has already evolved into a new era. How do I know? By looking at the results.

Continue reading 4 Best Practices For The Post-Information Age

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Ask The Tea Master: Samovar vs Teavana

We are passionate about tea and committed to helping you find the best way to make tea a rewarding part of your life.

We often get questions about tea and we wanted to share the discussion with you so everyone can benefit. Here’s a question that came in this week from Doug in Tuscon, AZ about the difference between Samovar Tea Lounge tea and Teavana.

Subject: Samovar, Teavana, and other

Greetings.

Loving your website! I have been reading and learning more about tea (and coffee–go Blue Bottle). In Tucson we have an excellent Chinese Tea House and also a Teavana retail shop. However, I am curious about Samovar vs Teavana where equipment suggestions, tea ware available for purchase and the tea itself are concerned. They [Teavana] tout themselves as the ultimate in tea but in spite of finding their tea very satisfying I am not convinced that they are the true purveyors but rather a major chain doing quality work. Are you willing to speak to this? My wife and I are departing for a few days this weekend. Upon returning I will be spending more time on your site viewing the videos. Am considering the Ultimate Guide package/s. Have been reading Zen Habits for nearly a couple years now and have at least one of Leo’s books. We had a San Francisco trip planned in January that fell through. We will be making plans for a long-weekend visit as soon as we can. You are on the list of Must-See places.

Oh, also read 101 Cookbooks and Omnivore Books postings. Pitch Perfect Audio (Matt Rotunda) is one of my favorite audio shops and people in the US! I say this in hope that you understand my enthusiasm for the Bay Area and tea, as well as the sincerity of my question. It’s part of how I learn. You know, who to trust where the real information is concerned. Thanks for any help you can provide. Best, Doug (Douglas & Peggy, Tucson, AZ)

Dear Doug,

Thank you so much for taking the time to research us and to ask this great question. Tea has been growing like crazy in America, and as you can see in Tuscon, the number of options is growing quickly.

If there’s one thing I can say for certain about tea, it’s this: Tea is personal. We’ve got our opinions and perspectives, but I don’t assume they are right for everyone. Way to go for doing the research and making up your own mind on the subject.

Continue reading Ask The Tea Master: Samovar vs Teavana

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How Not To Be Afraid Of Your Own Life

We live in a culture that denies fear. I guess that’s not surprising considering how uncomfortable cold, raw fear is. But it’s a disservice because if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that you cannot run from fear, and you definitely cannot hide.

Before Samovar Tea Lounge, I had a “killer” job in high-tech. My fear then was that I would never leave. Golden handcuffs bound me 10 hours a day to a life that was compromised. Uninspired. After I finally drew the courage to change and started Samovar, customers would walk in asking for coffee, or if we were a Chinese restaurant—and leave me haunted by visions of it all coming crashing down.

Luckily, I’ve been able to draw on some incredible friends and supporters. With their help, I’ve found the strength, and the strategies to make it work.

I recently had a chance to share tea with one dear friend as a part of my new Samovar Tea Talks video series. Susan Piver, author of How Not To Be Afraid Of Your Own Life and six other books (including a NYT Bestseller), has led a truly surpising—yet quintessentially American—life. After facing a mountain of challenges, she’s become something of a connoisseur of fear and has developed a refined perspective on it. The way she describes it, fear is not some tormentor, or demon. Fear is, simply put, a pure energy of vitality. Potent, uncomfortable and ultimately empowering.

For Susan, fear is a compass pointing to areas rich with potential for growth. As she says, “If you’re not scared, you’re not in the game.”

After accepting that she couldn’t run from fear, Susan learned to draw on strategies for confronting it head-on, over the years learning to open her heart to difficult situations and eventually becoming a student of meditation, and now a teacher.

I met Susan in 1995, but until our tea talk I never knew the extent of her personal struggles and achievements. I don’t want to give away too much, but here are a few things we discussed:

  • how she flunked 8th grade, never went to college—and then published six books including a New York Times bestseller
  • how she overcame her phobia of flying through the kindness of strangers
  • how she went from Austin cocktail waitress to music industry executive
  • advice for recent college grads and anyone in the job market
  • advice on love, heart break, and things to consider before tying the knot
  • how she flunked meditation instruction—and then went on to launch The Open Heart Project: an unconventional meditation school

Susan has been an inspiration, and friend. I’m proud to know her and very excited to introduce her to you.

You can learn a whole lot more about Susan, her books, and her meditation school on her site: SusanPiver.com.

Continue reading How Not To Be Afraid Of Your Own Life

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What Music Do You Listen To While You Drink Tea?

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Nothing sets tone and atmosphere like music. It bypasses conscious thought and resonates at a deep, primordial level. So when you brew a pot of tea for yourself, or your friends, what do you put on?

A recent conversation on our Facebook Page turned up some recommendations that we need to followup on—and that we thought you might enjoy.

  • Penguin Cafe Orchestra
  • Andres Segovia
  • Enya
  • Liquid Mind, by Chuck Wild
  • Ray Lynch
  • Spa Radio on Pandora
  • 80’s ambient music: Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Laraaji
  • Toumani Diabate
  • Robbie Basho
  • Favela
  • Argentine tango
  • Spanish guitar
  • Indian meditation drums
  • Bonobo: Black Sands
  • Elizabeth Fraser
  • La folk atmosphérique de Mamer
  • Cheb I Sabbah (on Pandora)

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Tea Lounge Groove

Have you heard our very own audio soundtrack, ONE: Tea Lounge Groove? Join the Samovar Tea Lounge community and we’ll send you links to three of our favorite tracks.

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Have You Tried Our Pu-erh Tea & Chocolate?

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Now’s Your Chance!

Try a flight of three top-quality pu-erhs at the Mission-Castro and Hayes/Hayes Valley Tea Lounges! This tea flight is a great opportunity to experience the complexities that make each tea uniquely delicious. And then there’s the chocolate.

Pu-erh Tea is the class of tea that is aged to perfection. It gets its name from the market of the city of Pu-erh, in Yunnan Province, China, where this tea was historically brought for sale from the more remote regions of the countryside where the tea is actually grown and processed. ?Authentic Pu-erh are made with Yunnan’s famous broad-leaf tea tree varietals. Unlike white, green, yellow, black, and most oolong teas, which are highly perishable and have a short shelf life, well-made pu-erh teas may be stored and aged for years of enjoyment.

There are two types of Pu-erh: Raw (or sheng) Pu-erh and Ripe (or shou) Pu-erh; both types of Pu-erh Tea (Raw and Cooked) are made with Sai qing “sun-cured green tea,” which is processed by withering, roasting, rolling, kneading and drying the leaves in the sun. Sheng Pu-erhs are aged naturally over time; Shou Pu-erhs are ripened using a modern, intentionally accelerated aging process.

Continue reading Have You Tried Our Pu-erh Tea & Chocolate?

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How To Brew The Perfect Cup Of Tea

We’re Here When You’re Ready For More

Tea is about slowing down and becoming more present. Tea is about paying attention to the little things because in the end, that’s all there is.

Check out the entire Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea 

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Continue Your Tea Journey

Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea. Enter your email and we’ll send you details to unlock Episode 2: How To Taste Tea The Samovar Way—FREE.

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Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Tea

 

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Continue Your Tea Journey

Engage all your senses as you learn the art and practice of tasting tea. Enter your email and we’ll send you details to unlock Episode 2: How To Taste Tea The Samovar Way—FREE.

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Ultimate Tea Guide and Starter Kit Coming Soon

TeaZone

Samovar Tea Lounge’s Ultimate Tea Guide and Starter Kit are coming soon! Join our mailing list to be notified when we launch them:


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New Reserve Tea Menu Only at the Castro-Mission Tea Lounge

Have you tried all of the teas on our menu and are ready for even more tea adventures?

The Mission-Castro Tea Lounge has a new Reserve Tea Menu with limited edition teas, not available at the other locations. Tea connoisseurs of all levels will enjoy these premium teas and herbal infusions from Nepal, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and beyond. Once they sell out they’re gone for good, so enjoy them while they last!

Check out the Reserve Tea Menu here (PDF)

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Vote for Positive Human Connection

Elections have a way of making us feel divided. With so much emphasis on our differences, we lose sight of what we share.

The truth is that we are all deeply connected. This is not an abstract idea, but a fact of life. I saw it with blinding clarity the moment I first held my son, so small, so vulnerable, so perfect. Then I imagined my father holding me, and his father before him.

The continuous chain of life is so obvious when you take the time to look.

Why do we spend so much energy defining our differences? When you boil it down we all have the same human needs: food, shelter, warmth, love.

This election, I’m voting for positive human connection; not just in those times when I’m sharing a pot of tea with people I love, but also during those inevitable situations when I’m dealing with people and we don’t see eye to eye.

Here’s a simple practice for developing positive human connection–even when it’s hard. Continue reading Vote for Positive Human Connection

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Reverence or Respect: Which is Better?

Respect is nice, kind, and something you give to strangers and you’re supposed to give to your elders. It’s formal and it’s externally motivated by society and others.

Reverence is deep, spiritual, and comes from inside. It’s hard to force reverence. It’s also harder to find it. But when you look deeper, and listen harder, reverence is there. And it’s so much broader than respect.

Think about water. Water deserves reverence. This planet is over 70% water. The human body is over 70% water. Water is everywhere and yet we never even think about it. Water is life and water deserves reverence.

Looking for reverence in the little obvious areas of life, makes for some potent realizations. We brew thousands of pots of tea at Samovar every single week, and it’s easy to lose sight of the potent little things. Like water and tea. It’s so easy to make and drink tea mindlessly, to take it for granted, and to “just do it.” But once in a while we really do stop, look, and listen. Then reverence blooms.

Tea is grown and cared for thousands of miles away from San Francisco. It’s a product of the earth, the sun, the rain and the wind. Tea is raw nature, born of the earth. And what allows tea to flourish is the same as what allows us humans to flourish: earth, sun and rain. If we take a moment to appreciate this fact, and to acknowledge that good tea is possible only with good water and good earth, that’s really powerful. Tea hydrates us, and uplifts us, and supports our livelihood. Good tea is a product of caring farmers and fertile earth. So basic and obvious, and so very, very powerful. Tea nourishes us inside and it puts a roof over our head.

So take a moment and listen. Notice. Feel a reverence for tea. For your your breath. For your family. For your life.

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June 4, 2011

Sencha + Citrus. Kelpy and green notes of sencha blended with yuzu to impart sweet and spicy, dry, fruity, clean and juicy acid.

One can resist the invasion of an army, but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.

– Victor Hugo

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June 2, 2011

The leaves of BaoZhong are bruised by being tossed in a bamboo basket or rolled with a large tarp. This process allows for the leaves to oxidize for a short period of time before being twisted and dried.

Always do what you are afraid to do.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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June 1, 2011

Insects bite the ends of the Bai Hao leaf, allowing oxidation to occur before the leaves are plucked. This process accounts for Bai Hao's unique range of color and taste.

 

I don’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  I’m frightened of the old ones.

– John Cage

 

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May 31, 2011

Looking to replace coffee or that energy drink, our Sweet Yerba Mate is your answer. Feel energized and get in the zone with this South American delight.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

– Seneca

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May 30, 2011

Often the forgotten tea category, pu-erhs are the richest in taste and fullest in body. Our Maiden's Ecstacy is a great way to enter the wonderful world of pu-erhs.

Success should be measured by the yardstick of happiness; by your ability to remain in peaceful harmony with cosmic laws.

– Paramahansa Yogananda

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May 28, 2011

Chinese green tea, rolled into pearls and naturally scented with jasmine flowers. Infuse and watch this tea expand in your cup.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.

– Henry David Thoreau

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May 27, 2011

Ryokucha remixes the classic "brown rice" green tea, adding matcha powder to the already powerful Japanese sencha.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

– Harold Whitman